Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses a new survey amongst GP practices in the UK which revealed some interesting figures concerning primary care consultation formats.
Amidst the chaos and controversy surrounding last week’s much talked about NHS cyber attack, some other interesting news regarding consultation formats within the health service emerged, and perhaps went somewhat unnoticed by a lot of people in the industry.
A recent survey of GP surgeries in the United Kingdom has found that one in six practices carry out “email consultations” with their patients, while a huge 96% of them offer telephone consultations.
These sort of processes are part of NHS England’s “10 high impact actions”, a set of proposals with the ambition of releasing time within general practice and primary care and reducing strain on NHS services.
In today’s blog, CEO and Founder of Now GP Lee Dentith looks at the alarming figures revealed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and how this will affect patients.
Today’s report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre further highlighted the worrying plight of our country’s healthcare service. Figures show that the average GP practice in the United Kingdom has seen its patient list grow by 2% in just eight months.
2% perhaps doesn’t sound that severe, but if you take into account that this represents about 169 additional patients for certain UK practices to deal with, it has the potential to be incredibly detrimental to the NHS’s ability to look after our nation’s primary healthcare safely.
It’s estimated by Pulse that, should this trend continue, the year on year growth rate for patient numbers in 2015-16 will be 3.5%. What we’re seeing is a significant drop in GP practice numbers combined with a 0.9% increase in the total number of patients registered with a GP across England. The numbers, quite simply, do not add up – we’re seeing local practices and surgeries close at an alarming rate, with as many as 25,000 patients set to lose access to their current GP in the rest of this year alone.
As patient numbers grow, this puts those remaining surgeries under increased pressure. More patients and less doctors can lead to several worrying conclusions, each having an injurious effect on those placed under this added and unnecessary strain.
We can expect these new figures to cause target waiting times to spiral further out of control. With more of us needing access to a GP for our primary healthcare concerns, but with surgeries busier than ever before, it seems clear to me that the health sector needs to think differently to ensure the level of care our nation is provided with does not diminish.
We need to think smarter about the way our patients can receive the primary care that they need, and attention must turn to more alternative, convenient services. In just three years we’ve seen the number of patients forced to wait for a week to see their GP increase by a third – this makes for staggering reading, and it’s imperative that something is done to help.
We live in a time when opportunities for digital and technical innovation are vast, yet the NHS – a pillar of our society for so many years – is dragging its heels and failing to appropriately adapt. We’re working hard to bring our mHealth solution to the masses in an effort to make healthcare convenient and accessible for everyone once again.
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In his regular blog, Founder and CEO of Now Healthcare Group Lee Dentith looks at the latest NHS news and why urgent action is needed to stop the system from reaching breaking point.
More and more people are now voicing their continued frustration with the National Health Service, with new damning research revealing that over ten million NHS patients per year are struggling to get an appointment with a GP. Crucially, it also reaffirms the fact that people in the United Kingdom are more dissatisfied with the service than ever before.
A mass survey of over one million patients has emphasised the problems that the NHS continues to face, with GP appointment waiting times, inconvenient opening hours and busy phone lines three of the most commonly-expressed complaints.
Incredibly, the number of patients who are forced to wait for one week or more to see a GP has risen by a third in just three years. This means that over ten million are unable to see a doctor in the same week when they fall ill.
The fact that the NHS is overstretched has long been known, but alarmingly this new report finds that some practices are closing for up to three and a half hours at lunchtime, or even closing up for full afternoons and weekends. With the number of patients unhappy with surgery hours rising to almost 75%, this is completely unacceptable, and cannot continue.
Here is a full breakdown of the shocking statistics uncovered by the survey (GP Patient Survey 2016):
18.7% of patients said their surgery was not open at convenient times – rising from 16% in 2012.
18.1% of patients waited more than a week to see a GP – rising from 13.8% in just three years.
11% of patients said they had failed to get an appointment at all – rising from 9.6% in 2012.
10.8% said that GP receptionists were “unhelpful” – rising from 9.5% in 2012.
25.8% said it was difficult to get through to a doctor’s surgery by telephone – a rise from 19.9% in 2012.
This makes for disturbing reading for patients and those involved in the healthcare industry. With growing reservations from GPs that David Cameron’s seven day onsite service ambitions would push an already struggling NHS closer to breaking point – especially if it were to be based on a continuation of its current model – these new figures will do little to convince us otherwise. Dissatisfaction with the NHS is rising, and rising at an incredible rate – we must implement major changes now to ensure that the nation is still provided with the healthcare system it deserves and that each person’s needs are catered for.
This is where Now GP is looking to change the current primary healthcare landscape. We’re looking to provide relief for our struggling NHS, with our mHealth solution able to provide GPs and surgeries with much-welcomed respite from soaring demands, as well as offering patients an effective alternative to lengthy waiting times.
With an MRCGP-certified professional doctor available at the touch of a button, the Now GP app can eliminate those early morning phone calls to your surgery and the inconvenience of having to wait several days for an appointment. We’re also looking to combat the country’s growing problem of staff sickness, and can deliver medicines and prescriptions straight to a patient’s home or office.
Dr Maureen Baker, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, told The Telegraph that the health service was working harder than ever to meet increasing demand but lacked the resources needed to allow them to do their jobs efficiently and thoroughly. We share their ambitions to turn things around for UK healthcare – that’s why we’re providing the Now GP app to patients to help alleviate the pressure on our hard-working doctors and to provide better access to healthcare for all. You can find out more on the Now GP website, www.nowgp.com
You can read more of Lee’s thoughts on Twitter and LinkedIn.